Making a friend happens in a variety of magical ways (a mutual friend may introduce you, random luck will strike, or the best is when a new person sees you better than you do yourself, usually in a moment where a reality check is needed and obliged), and I’d like to think it’s a result of divine intervention. I’ve said it a million times, but people are placed in your path in the exact moment you need them and suddenly things shift into place. This “shift” speaks to the power of friendship and the importance of human connection. We need each other, and that’s a beautiful thing. I’ve written about female camaraderie already, but I have found myself newly inspired to speak about friendship on a more personal note. For all intents and purposes I got what I asked for. It’s like a little wish came true after blowing out my candles this year. Suddenly, all of the true bonds in my life have strengthened, and those which I have outgrown (mentally and spiritually) have revealed themselves.
It’s never easy—or without heartache—to discover a person you once held dear is no longer inline with who you are, but thankfully overcoming these personal hurdles has a silver lining. The upside being these instances have inspired me to set even higher standards when it comes to knowing what constitutes a great friendship, and identifying when it’s time to cut my losses. Unfortunately, some friends are like those fun-house mirrors in a carnival, one look and you’ve suddenly lost your ability to see things as they are. If you have ever found yourself wondering if a ‘friend’ no longer has your best interest at heart, feel they don’t appreciate you, or you have come across trusted intelligence of “your friend” bad mouthing your life choices; then consider the following as a checklist for weighing the option of letting them go.
Creating my community (or small tribe of trustworthy, warrior women) enriched my life in ways I never imagined possible. These women have been my saving grace. They are my most trusted advisors when I’m lost, and hold me accountable for being the person I have always been in my heart. REAL women facilitate your growth, and never thwart your efforts in becoming the best version of yourself. My team supports me regardless of their own personal opinions or experiences. They saved me from feeling alone when life inevitably knocked the wind out of me on several occasions. Shit happens. This will always be the case, but knowing you have your tribe to lean on gives you the strength to pick yourself up and catch your breath. I’m fortunate enough to have my pick of the litter... my biggest problem is deciding who to call first—thankfully group chat is a wonderful tool for these moments.
I often approach things in life like I would a recipe, and making sound decisions is no exception. Like baking, having the right ingredients is paramount if you want a fluffy, moist, and delicious confection—go without baking powder and things just won’t turn out well. When analyzing your friendships the first question you should ask yourself is “how does this person(s) make me feel?” Is it comforted, inspired, empowered, uplifted, healed or all of the above? The end result is a major indicator in whether this person should be in your life.
My recipe for a throwdown, any day of the week, cure-all type friendship requires the following basic ingredients—but more than likely you’ll find every friendship has it’s own flavorings and special touches.
Trust- Knowing this person will keep your secrets, defend you when you’re not around (or when you are demonstrates your loyalty), and give an honest opinion that falls inline with who they know you to be is a staple in creating a lasting bond. Trust also has the added benefit of allowing us to be our truest selves, laugh till we snort and get an abdominal workout, share our embarrassing moments, and tell it like it is without the fear of judgement. #NOFILTER
Attentiveness- Listening to your friend as they pour their heart out requires mindfulness, and a sense for knowing when to say nothing and wait for them to ask for your advice. It’s easy to interrupt thinking you know the full story because you may know them very well, but always keep your opinions, advice, and experiential comparisons inside until you know they are needed. Sometimes the goal is simply to vent.
Truthfulness- It’s not always what they want to hear, but often what they need to hear which makes the difference between real friends and bobble heads. No one should expect their friends ought to sugar coat or agree just for the sake of avoiding uncomfortable silence. Wrong is wrong. Don’t poison the well of truth with scapegoats, excuses, or piss poor justifications. Just be honest, and respectful when doing so. Leave the judgement at the door when having these truthful conversations, but hold your friend accountable for who you know them to be.
Cheerleading- A person who loves you wants to share in your happiness, celebrate the wins together, and do backflips when big life milestones are reached. Choosing someone that will stand by you, be happy for you (even if they may not fully agree with your choices) is the testament of a true friend. When it comes to your friend’s happiness, you have to let them decide for themselves. Projecting what you feel is best for them is not your place. We are all on our own path and friends don’t ask for permission they ask for support. Marring your friend’s happiness with your own experiences and opinions is not okay. Neither is pretending to be happy for them. Self awareness does the mind and soul a ton of good, so be real with yourself and make sure you are sending out good vibes only.
Timelessness- This is the ability of your friendship to light up like fireworks no matter how long it’s been, and keep that spark despite the time and distance. Even if you do live in the same city, it can be tough to find time for your friends, but a good friend won’t hold it against you. BUT the caveat is this: if you find your friend is never there when you need them, makes constant excuses for not having time for you, but clearly makes time for everything (and everyone) else you may need to start considering whether this person is a genuine friend. Even the President of the United States of America makes time for his friends and family, so fuck that noise. No one is ever too busy to take even 10 minutes to make someone feel loved.
Love- By this point you’ve taken an in depth course on your chosen bestie, carved out a special crevice in your heart made just for them, and have fallen in mutual weirdness—which entails sharing ridiculously personal(and embarrassing) details about your life, gushing over every juicy detail like you’re school girls again, and even keeping each other abreast of the current state of affairs surrounding your vagina and/or bowel movements. #NoBoundaries. It’s pretty freakin’ safe to say “I love you, Bestie.”
Forgiveness- Being a good friend means knowing when to cut a sister some slack. Life is hectic, people make mistakes (but should learn from them and avoid repetition) and real friends look beyond their own upsets and see the intentions behind situations. Having good intentions may not avoid hurt feelings, but forgiving your friend for standing their ground (even if it wasn’t your preferred choice) challenges you to let go of judgment and just accept people. You don’t want someone to simply agree with you. Getting called out on our bullshit is an important part of life, and often times can help you confirm if you are making a wise decision.
All of this being said, if these ingredients are not present, eventually you may realize your friend just doesn’t “agree” with you anymore, so to speak. If you’ve ever developed a sudden food allergy, you know better than most that sometimes it comes out of nowhere. You may have indulged on honey roasted peanuts most of your life until that one day you are gasping for air. People change, evolve, develop “allergies” and sometimes need to give up the things(people) that pose threats to our health and wellbeing. Betrayal is like this, sudden, baffling, and painful. The first of them is feeling a friend doesn’t support your happiness(without hesitation). We want to give our friends the benefit of the doubt, but it’s probably not something you're imagining. Clearly, severing ties is easier said than done especially when you share mutual friends. But I’ve come to accept a simple fact in life—choosing to hold onto someone who hurts you says more about you than it ever will about them. Wanting to cleanse yourself of negativity doesn’t make you a bad person, in fact you’re actually doing your frenemy a favor too. Given enough time you’ll probably become just as big a hindrance to their personal growth as they are to yours at this moment.
My friends are the family I’ve chosen for myself, thus I treat my precious gems accordingly—sadly not everyone operates under this notion, but I guess everyone is just doing their best. Now having processed this “loss” I know how(and with whom) I want to spend my time here on this earth, and it doesn’t involve wasting time and energy on people who don’t feed my soul. I want to foster lasting relationships with downright incredible people who I can always count on to love me and support the family I’m building for myself. All you can do is be happy for people when they’re happy, so simple yet often corrupted.
To the genuine people who know how to give love, accept love, and spread it like butter on toast—this one’s for you. I love you all, dearly.